Fortunately -or not- Cole and I both made it down the stairs intact. Although, my fingers were starting to get crampy because I didn’t get a chance to unclench them. When I remembered I could finally pull my hand away, I jerked it away from him as quickly as I could.
“Keep moving,” Cole instructed, bordering on ordering me as he grabbed my arm again. I wasn’t exactly keen to run off in this dark place, but I also didn’t like being told what to do.
“Keep moving where exactly? Everything’s black!” I hissed back at him.
He sighed in annoyance. “You know, I now understand why you ended up here.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded, affronted.
“You’re more stubborn than anyone has the patience for.” His reply was simple, but I got the idea that he was holding back a smirk. In the dark, he could be making any expression he wanted and I wouldn’t be able to see it. It maddened me to no end.
I exhaled sharply, trying to restrain myself. “You know, despite what you obviously think, I’m not always like this.”
“You aren’t,” He didn’t ask it, but he still sounded skeptical.
“I’m not,” I growled, close to losing control.
This time he chuckled softly. It was so odd coming from him that I almost thought it was a sound in the dark. I tried to ignore the part of me that knew that I was annoying and stubborn, but the fact that I didn’t really have anyone anymore made it feel a little too close to home.
Instead of coming up with a good retort, I shoved Cole. “Will you just keep going? I’m your captive, yadda yadda. I’m pretty sure captives at least get left alone in dark scary rooms. I’ve never heard of one being joined by their captor.”
“You know, you’re pretty snarky for a ’captive.’” Not-Cole’s voice said from somewhere in the dark.
I tensed, trying to place the direction. “Well,” I forced nonchalance. “Since I was innocent when he grabbed me and I’m obviously not getting let go, I might as well have some fun before I meet my untimely end, don’t you think?”
“Pfft, she thinks we’re going to kill her.” A girl’s voice came from another side.
I suppressed a feral growl and my stomach clenched with the effort of keeping my voice even. “Aren’t you? Why else would you drag me into a dark room with an old rickety staircase?”
“Hey, don’t insult that staircase. I worked hard on it,” Another new voice came.
Finally, I couldn’t suppress the growl of frustration. “Either show yourself or try to catch me in the dark because trying to corner me isn’t going to go well for you.”
“She thinks she’s not cornered yet,” A voice sighed.
“Well, I mean, she isn’t,” A girl’s voice pointed out.
The light flicked on, revealing a group of people nearly surrounding me and Cole. My battle calm settled over me as I scanned the place.
“Well, this is nice,” I said pleasantly, creeping slowly closer to Cole. Never had I been so aware of the knife belt at my side. My fingers itched to grab it.
“Well, we weren’t about to make our base crappy.” One of the girls scoffed.
I didn’t give a snarky reply about it looking more like a dungeon than a base because I had launched myself at Cole and managed to get a hold of him. I kept him in front of me as I backed towards the one wall that didn’t have someone by it. “Oh, your base? That’s what this old room is? That’s nice.” Finally, the words slid past my tongue. They seemed to spread the calm even further through me.
One of the boys narrowed his eyes at me, tensing. “Let go of Cole.”
“Hey, I could tell her that myself thanks,” Cole replied in frustration. He pulled against me, but I held him tight, gritting my teeth as my arm moved. I leaned all my weight against him for a moment before I could hold him easily.
“How about we strike a deal,” I said, forcing my tone to sound pleasant as I reached for my knife belt. I slipped out my dagger and held it in front of Cole. “You tell me what you do at this base and I won’t hurt him.”
Cole stilled when he saw the glint of metal.
“You didn’t disarm her?” One of the boys yelled at Cole.
“She was wearing a skin-tight bodysuit! It didn’t look like she was armed!” Cole yelled back. He gasped as I held the knife closer to his neck.
I laughed, actually amused. “Oh, Coley... I showed you my abilities and asked for your help, but you didn’t believe me. I can be anyone and anything I want to. If I didn’t want you to see my knife belt, I could make it so that you couldn’t see it. Honestly, though, you must not be that observant because you were holding me quite tightly on the way here.”
“Alright, alright,” One of the girls stepped forward, throwing a disgusted look at the two boys who were practically foaming at the mouth as they glared at Cole. She looked back at me warily. “What do you want to know?”
“Where are we?”
The girl’s eyebrow raised, but she answered. “Salindia. We’re in the black kingdom.”
Ah, so that explains everyone’s goth attire.
“Why are you all here of all places? Surely someone such as Cole could meet his friends somewhere better than an old cellar.”
The girl hesitated, but as I looked at her, the couldn’t-care-less expression on her face faltered for a moment, concern breaking through. “Because if someone found out that Cole let us in here, he could lose the throne.”
I cocked my head in curiosity as the boys yelled, “Justice!” I cast a bored glance at them before turning back to her. “So, that makes you who exactly?”
Justice hesitated, picking at her over-sized brown shirt. “We’re-”
“Don’t say it,” Cole growled. I slowly moved the knife closer, shutting him up again.
“Juss, don’t tell her,” The other girl said softly, not taking her eyes off of me.
The girl’s eyes began filling a bit. “I’m sorry,” She said softly. She met my gaze, her shoulders pushing back as she met my eyes. “I’m Justice, crown princess of the green kingdom.”
Pleasure filled me as I reveled in the feeling of power. “Hmm. But that’s you, Justice. Who are your friends?” Knowing that she had feelings for Cole made this that much easier.
The two boys walked up beside Justice, flanking her. “Don’t you dare,” One of them growled, leaning close to her.
“But it’s Cole,” Justice replied softly, her voice breaking.
The boy’s shoulders fell. He looked at me, defeat shining in his eyes. “What do you want to know?”
I grinned, purposely showing my canines. ”Everything.”